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Covid-19: Globally Observed Unusual and Strange Facts
|by Dr. Jaipal Singh|
Whenever there is an epidemic, pandemic or natural disaster, people often tend to philosophically blame the nature for taking revenge on man. The fact is the human greed and lust for power and position is most often responsible for such calamities but the man, instead of ever acknowledging it, squarely puts the blame on to the others including abstract things of the nature. When this individual greed and lust for power turns into a national or global ambition, the pandemics and disasters like Covid-19 take place.
With no access to original documents, this author is not in a position to endorse or reject it but, undoubtedly, the role of China has been murky and dubious all along during the current pandemic.
A Nation with Dubious Ambitions, Ideology and Means
Even after nearly ten months study by experts’ team of the World Health Organization (WHO), it didn’t come out clearly whether the novel coronavirus is natural or manmade as also if it was an accidental breakout or a deliberate release. With the current state and approach of WHO, the truth will probably never emerge but the global ambitions of the People’s Republic of China to emerge as the most powerful nation are well known for fairly a long time. Actually, this started with the disintegration of the USSR in 1990s and China’s own expanding economy, population and geographical spread over the last three or so decades only served as fuel to the fire. This also reminds a book named "Unrestricted Warfare" authored by two colonels of PLA, Qiao Liang & Wang Xiangsui, in February 1999, which underlined the tactics of China as a developing country to compensate for their military inferiority vis-à-vis United States during a high-tech war. It is beyond imagination that such a crafty work by the senior army officers of PLA would go unnoticed and stay only as an academic work without any cognizance or action taken by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government.
In the current scenario with its global ambitions, the communist nation would naturally aim and target two countries: One, the US which is currently the only superpower and global leader; and two, India which is fast emerging as the next superpower and a force to reckon with in the world scenario owing to its population, and military power. The authors inter alia penned a strategy for the country to use money power to prepare an army of loyal people in America who could constantly criticize and oppose the federal government in an endeavour to paralyze normal functioning; wage an economic war targeting financial institutions and target the network system through hacking into websites and other available means. They didn’t show any disinclination or remorse in even using or exploiting terrorism in an endeavour to fulfil their ambitions; it is of common knowledge that the Chinese leadership has been effectively endorsing and using Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India to their advantage even in the forums like the United Nations (UN).
The primary concern shown in the book was how a country like China can defeat a technologically superior adversary like United State utilizing alternative means. The book noted that these dubious means, as alternatives of direct military confrontation, have similar and even greater destructive potential. Considering the interconnected nature of global economics and inter-dependence of nations, it is possible to inflict grievous harm on the life and economy of other nations without any direct offensive operation. Similarly, cyber-attacks disabling networks can easily hamstring large areas of life that are dependent on them for coordination. Another example of network warfare could be shutting down a network that supplies power; massive power outages could easily cripple industry, defence, medicine, and other crucial areas of life. Further, the terrorism as a means may affect a rather small section of population but it can easily erode any nation's sense of security and well-being. Of course, the biological weapons and bio-terrorism as a tool probably received more focus during the last two decades. In a nutshell, these alternative tactics together constitute a "grand warfare design", where there is no place for ethics and morality in achieving upper hand over the potential adversaries.
It may be remembered that while the Covid-19 disease was fast spreading worldwide during 2020, China was busy in pursuing its hegemonistic ambitions to capture more territories across the Indo-Tibetan border in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere that led to serious border clashes between the troops of two countries. It also adapted similar subversive tactics with its Southeast Asian neighbours that prompted the US to dispatch two naval battle groups in the South China Sea. Simultaneously, many reports had appeared in the media about the dubious role of the Chinese establishment in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. One such sensational report was published by the Ufospotlight magazine quoting an unidentified intelligence source (identity not revealed quoting security reasons) from the Chinese mainland suggesting a controlled yet deliberate release of virus which had undergone haywire. Incidentally, any denial of the report by the Chinese government or CPC or and deemed legal action against the publishers of the report never came in light. Also, perhaps it was for the first time that the role of the WHO, particularly its Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for working hand in gloves with China was criticized by many countries, with the US even threatening to withdraw its membership and funding support.
More recently, a report been has published in “The Weekend Australian” and the story promptly circulated by some UK newspapers like “The Sun” and “The Daily Mail” and other global media houses. According to this sensational disclosure, the Chinese military scientists discussed weaponizing SARS coronaviruses in a research paper published six years in 2015, further suggesting that the World War III might be fought with the biological weapons. These media reports are allegedly based on the sensitive documents in the possession of the US State Department consequent to an independent investigation. Reportedly, the military document titled “The Unnatural Origin of SARS and New Species of Man-Made Viruses as Genetic Bioweapons” reveal the Chinese military's plans with regards to bioweapons. Arguably, the Chinese language document inter alia also claims that a bioweapon attack could cause the "enemy's medical system to collapse".
Though the source documents are neither available in the public domain nor is a likelihood for now considering the sensitivity of the subject and powerful nation involved, the crux of the matter is that there indeed has been a forethought in the Chinese military establishment about the use of coronaviruses as a bioweapon on the potential adversaries through needful genetic engineering. According to these reports, some eighteen authors are listed in the aforesaid document, of which at least ten are scientists and weapons experts. The mystery still puzzles the entire world how the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated and made news in Wuhan, rapidly spread across the other parts of the world, especially the US, Western Europe and India, while life in China swiftly crawled back to normalcy with business as usual. While the novel coronavirus has so far known infected cases of 162,525,588 people and 3,371,049 deaths worldwide, the Chinese tally is merely 90,829 infections and 4,636 Deaths, bulk of it in Wuhan only. With the WHO report out in March 2021, it is evident that China neither fully cooperated nor shared all data with the experts’ team, while it would have been in their own interest if the transmission of virus indeed occurred from a wet market in Wuhan.
People have short memories and are forgetful of events in a short span otherwise why would Japan accept a long-term US protection with nuclear umbrella in the post-World War II when the same country had unleashed a nuclear holocaust on it with wounds still remaining unhealed. One doesn’t know if any clear case or vision would ever emerge about the controversy of the Chinese leadership and military considering the option of using the biological weapons to subdue their adversaries in a world war or a pandemic like eventuality but the existence of such a lab in Wuhan maintaining hundreds of potentially dangerous viral strains of Class 4 pathogens (P4) is a reality that cannot be denied with whatever stated safeguards, and so on. Also, the thought of using subversive means in China, bioweapons are one, against adversaries or the idea to dominate the world as numero uno country is not new. It is beyond imagination that the strategies recommended in the earlier mentioned book "Unrestricted Warfare" of 1999 vintage by senior army officers would have gone unnoticed by the Chinese leadership and key war strategists.
Covid-19 in Global Perspective
Currently, about 220 countries and territories are affected with the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the majority of them are facing the second or third wave of the disease. As of now, the world has a cumulative number of corona positive cases with a total of 162.6 million (with 87 per cent already recovered) with 3.37 million deaths. Only two countries, namely China and North Korea, are nearly free from it with life and business as usual, with the latter not reporting even a single corona positive case so far. Although nearly all other countries are under the grip of pandemic in varying degrees, more seriously affected countries are the US, India, Brazil, Russian and developed countries of the Western Europe such as UK, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Though the pandemic has more severely affected the life, economy and employment in these countries, such losses in many other countries too are quite significant, However, for the sake of brevity, the author would undertake only three largest countries population wise and politically more relevant in the current world order to briefly highlight only certain peculiar and strange occurrences in these countries.
1. People’s Republic of China
Currently, China is comprised of 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government and 2 special administrative regions. The aforesaid municipalities are Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing while the special administrative regions are Hong Kong and Macao. Ever since the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, the five most affected provinces/municipality are Hubei (mainly Wuhan), Guangdong, Shanghai, Heilongjiang and Zhejiang. Of the total corona positive cases 90,829 and deaths 4,636, the Hubei province alone accounts for 68,158 cases and 4,504 deaths. The remaining cases are distributed over the other provinces, regions and municipalities but a reconciled position is not available at any source.
Since the world has no independent means to verify the Chinese position, one has to rely on the data released by the Chinese government. The 77 days lockdown in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the novel coronavirus outbreak started, was lifted on 8 April 2020 and the occasion was marked as the victory on virus with jubilation marked by midnight lights and projection shows with imagery projected onto skyscrapers in China. Ever since while the entire world is grappling with the second and third waves of the pandemic, the communist country has reported fresh cases only in single, or occasionally doble digits with almost nil casualties. What really foxes the entire world and is stranger than fiction that while virus was largely contained in one Chinese city, its spread could not be stopped worldwide despite long and sustained lockdowns undertaken by many countries, especially India, that ruined and still ruining their life, economy and employment.
On their part, the Chinese government though constantly talked of transparency but their actions have been shrouded with mystery and strange behaviour all along ever since the first case was first reported in Wuhan in November 2019. Doctors who initially cautioned about the man-to-man transmission of virus were admonished and punished with the main whistle-blower Doctor Li Wenliang reportedly died of the same disease, initial vial samples were confiscated by authorities and destroyed without testing in the name of bio-safety, internal travel restrictions were tightly imposed inland but international travel ex-Wuhan continued for a fairly long period, the firm details of the “ground zero patient” are still not available, many countries including US feel that there was an intentional delay is sharing information about man-to-man transmission with the world community, access to Wuhan virology lab to independent scientists and experts was constantly denied and any reference to the origin of virus in Wuhan or China was vehemently contested and opposed.
The most enigmatic and mystifying fact is that none of the countries could stop the coronavirus despite many stringent measures including long spells of severe lockdown, which China has been so easily able to contain in one locality in a short time. This is when the Chinese people are neither known for any good hygiene and cleanliness nor for any better food habits or the healthcare system in the world. During the pandemic, the country initially utilized it as business opportunity worldwide by exporting related equipment and kit and of late has started some relief to the poor and underdeveloped countries as an image-building measure. Ever since the Chinese government declared victory over the coronavirus in April 2020, only a few hundred cases and nominal deaths have been reported from the country while the whole world is still reeling under the second and third wave. While Beijing constantly talks of help and cooperation but the MAGIC MANTRA is still missing for the nations to adopt similar measures to tame the virus.
2. The United States
During the current pandemic, the US is the single largest country to have suffered most on account of the SDARS-CoV-2 virus, be it their economy, employment or loss of human lives. As on 14 May 2021, the US had 33,664,013 known corona positive cases with 599,314 deaths. For a country which attaches a great significance for avoidance of any loss of human life, these figures are colossal, shocking and terrifying. With approximately 330 million people, the US population is nearly one-fourth of India’s population and during the second coronavirus wave till sometime back, their daily number of new Covid patients were as high as 275,000 or even more on several occasions. Five worst affected states in terms of the total cases and casualties are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois in the same order and five least affected ones are New Hampshire, Alaska, Maine, Distt. Columbia and Vermont, respectively. But even among the least affected states, New Hampshire exceeds China’s tally in terms of the total number of corona cases reported so far. Of the five popular vaccine candidates currently in regular use, two namely Pfizer and Moderna belong to the US; and as per reports, nearly one-third population has been fully vaccinated and over 45 per cent people received first shot.
Undoubtedly, the US has one of the best health care systems in the world yet the shortages, chaos, confusion and mismanagement in handling patients as well as dead bodies during the peak was quite apparent. It is a different matter that the media and opposition political leaders in US remained largely guarded and supportive as compared to the Indian experience where the government and health care workers have been fighting altogether a different battle. As for the domestic and global response of the US, when the pandemic started during early months of 2020, the then US President and his staff raised appropriate questions and queries about the origin of virus and suspect Chinese role in spreading it worldwide from Wuhan besides deploying two naval battle groups near South China Sea in response to hegemonistic behaviour of China with its neighbours like Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, etc. Though the US action was far from being adequate but it had at least put some pressure on China to go in a defensive mode.
The political parties in any country may have differences on ideology, policies and programmes but the foreign policy is usually kept out of this purview and largely driven keeping national interests in view. With the change of governance from the Republican to Democrat President, though any official words have not come as yet but, strangely enough, there are several indicators of a possible policy shift vis-à-vis key Asian nations China and India. For instance, the then President criticized China’s suspect and irresponsible acts in spreading Coronavirus across the globe and among many punitive measures, he also sent two battle groups led by the US aircraft carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz in the South China Sea with the clear intent of protecting the territorial integrity of smaller nations in the region and asserting the status of the subject sea as an international maritime zone. The incumbent President has been guarded and simply stated that the US presence in the region is not for a conflict with China but just to avoid it. Besides, President Biden has now banned any references to Covid-19 by geographical locations of its origin citing xenophobic considerations.
In other words, henceforth no person shall make a reference to China or Wuhan in the US in the context of coronavirus but strangely enough they have no issues in linking the virus with India or other countries as we now frequently come across the terms like Indian, UK or South African variant. It is evident that the Democrat President Biden, irrespective of catastrophic loss of lives and economy in US, is not willing to pursue an aggressive policy towards China; instead, he is inclined to follow a reconciliatory approach. On the contrary, some of the recent developments suggest that the new US administration may perhaps deviate from the erstwhile policy and principles while dealing with India. In this context, the recent report of the US Department of State on Human Rights in India is relevant which is very critical on several counts and has been summarily rejected by India. In yet another strange development, the President Biden had stopped the supplies of the raw material needed for the vaccine ramp up in India using a wartime law; the issue has, however, been resolved for now through diplomatic intervention. This arm-twisting tactic is not new but the irony is that the new US administration is using it to subdue an ally and sister democracy instead of their real rival and adversary.
Currently India is grappling with the second coronavirus posing a great challenge to the fragile Indian health care system and grave mortal fear among the Indian people. India is the largest democracy and second most populous country in the world as also the most complex society with horizontal and vertical divide on social and economic parameters. Of late, the number of the daily reported fresh Covid-19 cases have ranged between three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand, occasionally even exceeding the latter benchmark. In the overall tally of the covid patients, it ranks only next to the US with a total corona positive cases 24,372,907 as on 14 May 2021 and only next to the US (599,314) and Brazil (432,785) in terms of total deaths 266,229. Five worst affected states in terms of the total cases and casualties are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the same order and five least affected ones are Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim and Mizoram, respectively.
While most other countries and their citizens in the world are unitedly fighting with the deadly virus to subdue and defeat it with the minimum loss of life and other collateral damages, but for India it is altogether a different battle. Many opposition parties, a large section of media, self-proclaimed liberal and intellectuals as also a section of population following them have used the pandemic an opportunity to embarrass the central government to pull down, if feasible, through constant propaganda, criticism and hurdles. Of course, this is not a new phenomenon as they have been doing it almost on all significant occasions and new developments, be it the Sino-Indian border clashes, terror caused by Pakistan sponsored terrorists and commensurate action taken against them by the Indian security forces, punitive surgical strikes on terror outfits in Pakistan territory, abolition of redundant laws providing special status to one state, Citizen (Amendment) Act to facilitate rehabilitation of the persecuted families taken refuge from the neighbouring Islamic countries, agriculture reform laws, and so on, actually the list is fairly long.
Consequently, in India’s case it is not a fight against the coronavirus alone during the current pandemic but the government and entire executive machinery has to face and counter constant slur and slander of malicious propaganda, criticism and hurdles created by the aforesaid class too in performing their national duty. When the coronavirus started spreading in India during March/April 2020, the Tablighi Jamaat of the Muslim community alone contributed over one-third of the total Covid-19 patients in the country. The misconduct and health hazard created by the members of the Jamaat posed a major challenge in the country in the initial months for the administration, police and health workers to prevent spread of the disease. The position was further aggravated by the irresponsible opposition politicians, pseudo-intellectuals and liberals and a section of biased media, who tried to defend the misdemeanour of the Jamaat members with allegations that the government was out to create Islamophobia and communal divide in the country. Even now there are reports that many members of the particular community are neither wearing masks nor following other protocols in public places, and nor showing interest in getting vaccinated. In such cases, people with vested interests have misled them to believe that the vaccination programme is a conspiracy of the central government to kill the members of that community.
Now, let’s take the scene of the vaccination programme, the only silver lining giving hope for the salvage of the pandemic situation. While the vaccines were under development, the very set of people constantly raised questions and doubts about the capability of scientists and government as also the efficacy of such vaccines in providing protection against the Covid-19 disease. When the vaccines namely Covishield (in collaboration with Oxford-AstraGeneca of UK) and Covaxin (indigenous by Bharat Biotech and ICMR) were approved for the emergency use, the same set of critics raised questions about inadequate trial and rush for vaccination risking the life of citizens. In fact, a famous politician and erstwhile chief minister of a state is on record to link the vaccine with the ruling political party in his rhetoric of inciting people for the opinion building against the vaccine. Now that the vaccination programme is successfully under progress (about 180 million covered on date), same people are raising bizarre and impractical issues to achieve vaccination for all without consideration of the obtaining resources and constraints as if they are the saviours and the government is indifferent and deliberately ignoring the welfare and well-being of the citizens.
Some facts of the second corona wave in the Indian sub-continent are stranger than fiction. By mid-February 2021, the incidence of the daily number of new Covid-19 patients had declined to a minimum with only about eight to nine thousand cases, nearly two-third of which was from only two states of Maharashtra and Kerala. Considering population and size of the country, this was a small number generating optimism that the life in the country might soon return to normal. Then the number started showing a steady increase till around the middle of March but the majority of such cases were owing to the aforesaid two states only and things still looked much within control. But following this, it was like an explosion of new cases daily rising at a phenomenal pace and the second wave abruptly ransacked nearly all major Indian states and territories. What surprises more is that India shares a long boundary with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal in the region with similar climatic conditions and neither of them have any better healthcare system or resources to fight the disease nor their people are any better in social habits and discipline but these countries have not shown any unusual virus activity during the same period.
The famous adage “fishing in the troubled waters” perfectly fits into the Indian corona crisis as the muggers and vultures have taken no time to take full advantage of the difficult situation. Graphic details of the shortages of some life-saving drugs, people struggling to find hospital beds and dying due to lack of oxygen as also flames of dead bodies burning have been selectively and crudely depicted by a section of national and international media to press the single point that how the Indian prime minister Modi and his government is solely responsible and has completely failed to handle the situation during the second wave. Actually, there is a long list of Modi and BJP hater and baiter journalists in India itself, who received patronage, handsome rewards and awards during the earlier regime(s) and are too eager now to payback through sensational writings at home and abroad. Ms Rana Ayyub, an avid Modi hater and India basher on the payroll of a famous US media house, writes in an article on Time that she has seen nothing like this before and the responsibility for it lies primarily with the strongman (referring to Modi) regime that has ignored all caution, and this colossal failure of policymaking has many forebears, including general callousness, crass electoral considerations and sheer ineptitude. In fact, the Western Media particularly some of the newspapers like The Washington Post and New York Times are full of such exaggerated news and claims about India these days. Back home, a prominent opposition leader and long-time PM aspirant even holds that the Indian virus is now a grave threat to the world health.
Critics are now hauling up the Indian leadership even for helping nearly hundred countries with vaccines, medicines and other equipment during their crisis on humanitarian considerations and international protocol. To cut this long story short, the actors and rhetoric at the world stage are same that only subject and theme has changed. This is a subject that needs full length article to fully appreciate the ground reality in countries such as US vis-a-vis India. However, the author would like to briefly make a comparison of the Covid situation between the US and India with data readily available in public domain only on few key parameters. This might help the Western media including "Time" so enthusiatically (or viciously!) engaged in Modi and India bashing to upgrade their knowledge and probably also serve as a mirror for some. It is of common knowledge that US and India have approximate population of 330 million and 1390 million, respectively; and of course, undoubtedly, the former is very rich and resourceful compared to the latter including its healthcare system. Inspite of the aforesaid facts, the current position of the total number of cases, total number of active cases and and number of deaths in US is worse than India. Also the death rate in US so far has been 1.78 per cent compared to India's 1.09 per cent. One wonders if the Western media would ever use similar data to evaluate the performance of the leadership in own countries.
Source: Worldometer (https://worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries)
The media and such critics would perhaps not even venture to find out or report about the US which population wise is only one-fourth of India and resources wise probably best in the world yet they failed to prevent first and second waves with a domestic corona crisis worse than India both in terms of the total number of Covid-19 patients and casualties. They also forget the fact that in Indian traditions a funeral pyre is offered to the dead bodies while in West they are quietly buried yet reports are still coming from the places like New York with hundreds of dead bodies of the Covid victims in US waiting in trucks for identification and (honourable!) burial. Away from this hullaballoo, the Indian government is trying their best with needful measures to help states to cop up with situation. Of course, assistance from several friendly countries including US has been of tremendous use to cop with the situation. While the position is still precarious but selective lockdown, augmentation of medical facilities and other measures have already started showing improvement in the desired patient healthcare and decline in fresh cases. Needless to repeat but India is indeed fighting a unique lone battle with so many odds and open fronts in its endeavour to contain the deadly virus with minimum loss of lives and collateral damages.
Some More General Yet Strange Covid Facts
A unique and strange feature about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is that so far it has dodged and proved wrong nearly all assessment and prediction worldwide. For instance, scientists and experts are still debating about its mode of transfer through contact or air or both as well as its longevity on the surfaces and air. Further, where the experts predicted its impact to be more severe in cold conditions, it actually exploded in a warmer climate. The list of such anomalies, unusual and strange behaviour is rather long in the context of this fast-mutating virus. However, some of such peculiar features are briefly recorded in the following lines.
1. The virus has qualities of a highly potent bioweapon
Sans Spanish flu virus over a century back when the modern allopathy and health care system was not so developed, the SARS-1 coronavirus and such other pathogens spread without discretion or discrimination in limited territories with minimum loss of life and collateral damages. But the SARS-Cov-2 coronavirus has spread like wildfire across the globe, while at its origin point Wuhan in China it displayed features like a controlled explosion in one city but in the rest of the world even the best of efforts initially made by the countries like India could not contain it and the loss of life and collateral damages in other countries so far have been of colossal and grave magnitude.
2. Impact is more widespread than nuclear weapons
In history, the nuclear weapons have been used once only by the US on two cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Though hundreds of thousand people were affected but loss of life and after effects remained limited to these cities within certain radius. On the other hand, coronavirus causing Covid-19 disease has engulfed the entire world and refuse to die down except in China and North Korea. Like the Chinese claims about the origin of virus, their data too are not fully trustworthy and no one outside have a clear picture except that it indeed started in Wuhan and some significant damage was indeed done there. For illustration, between 29 March to 16 April 2020, only 42 deaths were reported by the Chinese government in a total of 3,342 cases. Then suddenly on 17 April 2020, additional death of 1,290 people was added citing as carried over bringing national tally of casualties to 4,632, without any sound logic and rationale.
Geographically, its spread and impact has been highly erratic and discriminatory often very difficult to explain by any reason or rationale. For instance, the US and Western European nations, India, Brazil and few others have been worst affected while the impact has not been that severe in other countries. Initially some people put forth a logic that the people in Western nations are more vulnerable due to weak relative immunity following their affluent and luxurious life styles but then in the second wave the virus has hit India too, a developing country, with equal vehemence like a thunderbolt with neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh largely remaining unaffected.
3. SARS-CoV-2 is fast mutating virus
Americans and some others initially called it “China virus” or “Wuhan virus” but now the new US President has banned use of these terms through an executive order in US; instead, terms like the Indian, UK or South African variant are being liberally used with no strings attached. The reason relates to its genome sequencing which the experts believe is frequently changing leading to even more potent forms. Some scientists have assigned a logical reason for the virus being more potent but are unable to explain why this virus only. According to them, the SARS disease caused in 2003 (origin: China) was also on account of coronavirus but the Covid-19 coronavirus binds ten to twenty times more tightly to human cells; hence it is more persevere and potent compared to earlier legionary agents. Due to its mutation ability, it is also difficult to control and precise drug or vaccine to neutralize it. For instance, the alleged UK variant (B.1.1.7) is stated to have spread 30 to 50 per cent faster than the original virus and caused more severe disease. Similarly, the alleged Indian variant (B.1.617.2) too has caused similar concern.
4. The COVID-19 virus can spread through contact and air
The coronavirus causing Covid-19 disease is mainly transmitted through the droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales air. These droplets are too heavy to stay in the air for long; hence quickly fall on the floor or any other surfaces. Therefore, any unprotected person in close proximity may get infected by breathing in or through the contaminated surfaces by touching mouth, nose or eyes. But the recent studies suggest that some of the droplets can stay long in the air and in such case, people are more likely to get infection in crowded places and indoors with poor ventilation.
5. Asymptomatic people can spread the virus
The virus may have an incubation period of one to fourteen days before symptoms are shown but a good number of corona positive cases remain asymptomatic till end. Therefore, any person coming in contact of such people runs a risk of getting infection. According to a report, nearly one-third of 565 Japanese people evacuated from Wuhan in February 2020 had tested positive but never showed any symptoms of disease. Similarly, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in US has estimated that up to 40 per cent of individuals may not experience or exhibit symptoms. Of course, this behaviour of the virus is good for the affected person but worse for the public health as he could unintentionally infect many others.
6. The loss of the sense of smell and taste
Although the most common symptoms of the Covid diseases include fever, cough and shortness of breath; however, strangely enough unusual symptoms of the loss of the sense of smell (anosmia) and taste (ageusia) have been reported worldwide in covid patients. Some countries like Germany and South Korea have formally observed these symptoms through sampling.
7. Blood Group A is more susceptible to infection
According to a Chinese study based on over two thousand patients, the people with Blood Group A are found more susceptible to Covid-19 disease compared to other blood groups. Some genomic studies carried out in Italy and Spain too are stated to support this. However, the concept requires more research/studies and internationally yet to be accepted.
8. Many people will not know if they were infected
Another strange feature about the Covid-19 virus is that a considerably large number of people remain ignorant about own infected status. This is because of their being asymptomatic as mentioned earlier and such people are a potential risk for other people. Besides, a sizeable population develops minor flu-like symptoms such as being feverish with cough and cold of low intensity and many of them never undertake requisite tests. While such people recover without being formally identified as Covid-19 patients, they too are a potential risk to other people including own family members.
Prima facie, it may appear like a blunt averment or even comic observation but the harsh reality is that both the People’s Republic of China and the novel coronavirus seem to have forged a symbiotic relationship in the current world order. Is it not a fact that China considers the US and its NATO allies as adversaries and India as its main rival in Asia, and these are the countries suffering most with the corona carnage? The available data and information give strong reasons to believe that the virus originated and remained largely localised in Wuhan, Hubei in China for a considerable time before it transmitted across the globe by either sheer intent or callousness through the overseas travel. On their part, the Chinese government celebrated victory over the virus in April 2020 and thereafter it has been a business as usual in the communist nation. People over there have a normal life and economic growth is fairly steady and strong. The status of North Korea, perceived as China’s closest ally is even better and if their version is taken on face value, even a single corona positive case has not been reported in the country thanks to measures like quarantine and travel restriction. Story for the rest of the world is, of course, entirely different with irrespective of measures including the two cited by North Korea, the virus has surged through the second and third waves inflicting severe blows to human lives, economy and employment.
The only viable protection against the Covid-19 disease seemed so far was permanent masks, constant handwash and strict social distancing with the collateral fall out of ceasing or severely restricting all social and business activities. Constant experimentation on trial-and-error basis has identified certain symptomatic drugs which are in use as relief to the patients. The only long-term protection appears the undergoing vaccination programme which is also hampered in many countries due to shortages and other reasons. Ordinarily, development and approval of a vaccine for use is a long-drawn process taking years altogether but almost every country has approved it for the emergency use. Therefore, despite human hope and tall claims about its efficacy made by the vaccine developers and manufacturers, the real impact and benefits would be established only in due course. Aforesaid observation is vindicated by the fact that due to its availability and affordable cost, the Oxford-AstraGeneca vaccine (tradename Covishield in India) is in use by a large number of developing and under-developed countries but in a short span of 3-4 months, the duration of the second (booster) dose has been altered twice – initially from 4 weeks to 6-8 weeks, and now to 12-16 weeks. Also point to be remembered is that the vaccination will only minimize severity of the disease and not a guarantee of protection against the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Besides, a lot of work still remains to be done for the protection of the children below the age of 18 years as also to see if the same vaccines would be effective against the newer variants of the coronavirus or alternative means and methodologies would be required.
Image (c) istock.com
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